How Dangerous is Radiation?

  • Bernard L. Cohen


The most important breakdown in public understanding of nuclear power is in its concept of the dangers of radiation. What is radiation, and how dangerous is it?


Cancer Risk Bone Cancer Natural Radiation Nuclear Regulatory Commission Excess Cancer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Reference Notes

  1. 1.
    S. Novick: The Careless Atom (Dell Publ. Co., New York, 1969 ), p. 105.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Appendix for this chapter.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), “Natural Background Radiation in the United States,” NCRP Report No. 45 (1975).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Calculations by the author, unpublished.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    “Report of the President’s Commission on The Accident at Three Mile Island,” Washington, D.C. (1979); “Three Mile Island, A Report to the Commissioners and to the Public,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission Special Inquiry Group; Ad Hoc Interagency Dose Assessment Group, “Population Dose and Health Impact of the Accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission Document NUREG-0558 (1979). Early assessment gave an average dose of 1.7 mrem, but later revisions reduced this to 1.2 mrem.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    James Hardin: (Kentucky Department of Human Resources) private communication. He was in charge of environmental monitoring in the area.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, May 6, 7, 8 (1979).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Private communication with Health Physicists from the Ginna plant.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    L. Garfinkel, C. E. Poindexter, E. Silverberg: “Cancer Statistics—1980,” American Cancer Society (1981).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    United Nations Scientific Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), “Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation,” United Nations, New York (1977).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Interagency Task Force on Ionizing Radiation, Summary of Work Group Reports, Department of HEW (1979).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, Radiation Exposure from Consumer Products and Miscellaneous Sources, NCRP Report No. 56, Washington, D.C. (1977).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    National Academy of Sciences Committee on Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR), “The Effects on Populations of Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation,” Washington, D.C. (1980).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, ICRP Publication No. 26 ( Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1977 ).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    B. L. Cohen, I. S. Lee: “A Catalog of Risks,” Health Physics, 36, 707 (1979).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    R. Garrison, U.S. Department of Energy, private communication on transport accidents. Estimates for others from various sources of information.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    C. C. Lushbaugh, S. A. Fry, C. F. Hubner, R. C. Ricks: “Total-Body Irradiation: A Historical Review and Follow-up,” in C. F. Hubner and S. A. Fry (eds.), The Medical Basis for Radiation Accident Preparedness ( Elsevier-North Holland, Amsterdam, 1980 ).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    T. F. Mancuso: A. Stewart, and G. Kneale, Health Physics, 33, 369 (1977).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    E. S. Gilbert: Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory Document PNL-SA-6341 (1978).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    G. B. Hutchinson, B. MacMahon, S. Jablon, C. E. Land: Health Physics, 37, 207 (1979).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    U.S. General Accounting Office, “Problems in Assessing the Cancer Risks of Low-level Ionizing Radiation Exposure,” Report EMD-81, Washington, D.C. (1981).Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    J. A. Reissland: “An assessment of the Mancuso study,”Publication NRPB-79, U.K. National Radiological Protection Board, Didcot, Berk. (1978); T. W. Anderson, Health Physics, 35, 743 (1978); A. Brodsky, testimony before the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., 8 February 1978; B. L. Cohen, Health Physics, 35, 582 (1978); S. M. Gertz, ibid, 35,723 (1978); E. S. Gilbert, “Methods of Analyzing Mortality of Workers Exposed to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation,” Report BNWL-SA- 634, Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Richland, Washington, May (1977); E. Gilbert and S. Marks, Health Physics, 37, 791 (1979); ibid, 40, 125 (1981); J. W. Gofman, ibid, 37, 617 (1979); D. J. Kleitman, “Critique of Mancuso-Stewart-Kneale report” (prepared for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C., 1978); S. Marks, E. S. Gilbert, and B. D. Breitenstein, “Cancer mortality in Hanford workers,” Document IAEA-SM-224, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna (1978); R. Mole, Lancet, i, 582 (1978); “Staff Committee Report of November 1976,” Nuclear Regulatory Com-mission, Washington, D.C. (1976); “Staff Committee Report of May 1978,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. (1978); “The Windscale Inquiry,” Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London (1978); D. Rubenstein, “Report to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. (1978); L. A. Sagan, “Low-Level Radiation Effects: The Mancuso Study,” Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, California (1978); B. S. Sanders, Health Physics, 34, 521 (1978); F. W. Spiers, ibid, 37, 784 (1979); G. W. C. Tait, ibid, 37, 251 (1979).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    B. L. Cohen: “The Low-Level Radiation Link to Cancer of the Pancreas,” Health Physics, 38, 712 (1980).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    I. D. J. Bross, M. Ball, S. Falen: American Journal of Public Health, 69, 130 (1979).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    J. D. Boice, C. E. Land: American Journal of Public Health, 69, 137 (1979).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    T. D. Luckey, Hormesis with Ionizing Radiation (CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla. 1980 ).Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    A. F. Cohen, B. L. Cohen: “Tests of the Linearity Assumption in the Dose-Effect Relationship for Radiation Induced Cancer,” Health Physics, 38, 53 (1980).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    National Academy of Sciences Committee on Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR), “The Effects on Populations of Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation,” Washington, D.C. (1972).Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    B. L. Cohen: “Perspective on Genetic Effects of Radiation,” Health Physics (in press).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    E. B. Hook: “Rates of Chromosome Abnormalities at Different Maternal Ages,” Obstetrics and Gynecology, 58, 282 (1981).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    J. M. Friedman: “Genetic Disease in the Offspring of Older Fathers,” Obstetrics and Gynecology, 57, 745 (1981).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    W. J. Schull, M. Otako, J. V. Neel: “Genetic Effects of Atomic Bombs: A Reappraisal,” Science, 213, 1220 (1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    R. J. Lewis (ed.), “Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances,” U.S. Public Health Service, November (1981) (available by computer access).Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    L. Fishbein: in Chemical Mutagens, Vol. 4, A. Hollaender (ed.) (Plenum Publ. Co., New York, 1976) pp. 219ff.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    K. Sax, H. J. Sax: “Radiomimetric Beverages, Drugs, and Mutagens,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 55, 1431 (1966).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    L. Ehrenberg, G. von Ehrenstein, A. Hedgran: “Gonad Temperature and Spontaneous Mutation Rate in Man,” Nature, December 2, 1433 (1957).Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    U.S. Department of HEW, “Antenatal Diagnosis,” National Institutes of Health Publication No. 79–1973 (1979).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    G. W. Beebe, H. Kato, C. E. Land: “Mortality Experience of Atomic Bomb Survivors 1950–1974,” Radiation Effects Research Foundation Technical Report RERF TR 1-77 (1977). The data for Hiroshima and Nagasaki were added here.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), “Review of NCRP Radiation Dose Limit for Embryo and Fetus in Occupationally Exposed Women,” NCRP Report No. 53 (1977).Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    W. J. Blot, R. W. Miller: “Mental Retardation Following In Utero Exposure to the Atomic Bombs,” Radiology, 106, 617 (1973).Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    G. B. Avery, L. Menesis, A. Lodge: “The Clinical Significance of Measurement of Microcephaly,” American Journal of Diseases of Children, 123, 214 (1972).Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    A. Stewart etal.: “Malignant Disease in Childhood and Diagnostic Irradiation in Utero,” Lancet, ii, 447 (1956); A. Stewart and G. W. Kneale, “Radiation Dose Effects in Relation to Obstetric X-Rays and Childhood Cancer,” Lancet, i, 1185 (1970).Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    B. MacMahon: “Prenatal X-Ray Exposure and Childhood Cancer,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 28, 1173 (1962).Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    S. Jablon and H. Kato: “Childhood Cancer in Relation to Prenatal Exposure to Atomic Bomb Radiation,” Lancet, ii, 1000 (1970).Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    B. E. Oppenheim, M. L. Griem, P. Meier: “Effects of Low Dose Prenatal Irradiation in Humans,” Radiation Research, 57, 508 (1974).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Rashed Fawwaz: Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, private communication (1982).Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    A. K. Poznanski, C. Kanellisas, D. W. Roloff, R. C. Borer: “Radiation Exposure to Personnel in a Neo-natal Facility,” Pediatrics, 54, 139 (1974).Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    David Milstein, Albert Einstein Medical Center, private communication (1982).Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    B. L. Cohen: “The Cancer Risk from Low Level Radiation,” Health Physics, 39, 659 (1980). Many references are given therein.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    E. W. Webster: “Cancer Risks from Low Level Radiation—A Commentary on the BEIR Report 1980,” in Critical Issues in Setting Radiation Dose Limits, Proceedings No. 3, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) (1982).Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    A. M. Kellerer, H. H. Rossi, Current Topics in Radiation Research, 8, 85 (1972).Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    D. C. Lloyd etal: “The Relationship Between Chromosome Aberrations and Low LET Radiation Dose to Human Lymphocytes,” International Journal of Radiation Biology, 28, 75 (1975).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    E. J. Purrott and E. Reeder, “The Effects of Changes in Dose Rate on the Yield of Chromosome Aberrations in Human Lymphocytes Exposed to Gamma Radiation,” Mutation Research, 35, 437 (1976).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    M. Terzaghi, J. B. Little, “Radiation Induced Transformation in a C3H Mouse Embryo-Derived Cell Line,” Cancer Research, 36, 1367 (1976).Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    A. Han and M. M. Elkind: “Transformation of Mouse C3H Cells by Single and Fractionated Doses of X-Rays and Fission Spectrum Neutrons,” Cancer Research, 39, 123 (1979).Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    R. L. Ullrich etal.: “The Influence of Dose and Dose Rate on the Incidence of Neoplastic Disease in RFM Mice after Neutron Irradiation,” Radiation Research, 68, 115 (1976).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    M. P. Finkel, B. O. Biskis: Progress in Experimental Tumor Research, 10, 72 (1968).Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    R. E. Rowland, A. F. Stehney, H. F. Lucas: Radiation Research, 76, 368 (1978).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    B. L. Cohen: “Failures and Critique of the BEIR-III Lung Cancer Risk Estimates,” Health Physics, 42, 267 (1982).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    T. F. Dougherty, C. W. Mays: “Bone Cancer Induced by Internally Deposited Emitters in Beagles,” in Radiation Induced Cancer, p. 361, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna (1969).Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    C. W. Mays, H. Spiess, and A. Gerspach, “Skeletal Effects Following 224Ra Injections into Humans,” Health Physics, 35, 83 (1978).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    T. Kitabatake, T. Watanabe, S. Koga: Strahlentherapie, 146, 599 (1973).Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    R. D. Evans: “Radium in Man,” Health Physics, 27, 497 (1974).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    J. B. Storer: “Radiation Carcinogenesis,” in Cancer, F. F. Becher (ed.), Plenum Press, New York (1975). This is a review that lists references to the various animal studies.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    H. Nishiyama etal.: Cancer, 32, 1301 (1973).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    T. Najarían: Boston Globe, Feb. 19, 1978.Google Scholar
  67. 66.
    T. Najarían, T. Colton: Lancet, i, 1018 (1978).Google Scholar
  68. 68.
    R. A. Rensky etal.: “Cancer Mortality at a Naval Nuclear Shipyard,” The Lancet, 31 Jan. 1981, p. 231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    S. Wermiehl: “Doctors Shift on Shipyard: Kennedy Chides Portsmouth Researcher,” Boston Globe, June 20, 1979.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bernard L. Cohen 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard L. Cohen

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations